Andrew Carnegie

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Surplus wealth is a sacred trust which its possessor is bound to administer in his lifetime for the good of the community.

Andrew Carnegie (25 November 183511 August 1919) was a Scottish-American businessman, a major philanthropist, and the founder of the Carnegie Steel Company, which later became U.S. Steel.


  • To be popular is easy; to be right when right is unpopular, is noble... I repudiate with scorn the immoral doctrine, 'Our country, right or wrong'.
    • Quoted in: "An Imperial Moment" (December 5, 2002), by Jonathan Schell and John Maxwell Hamilton at The Nation.
  • Three generations from shirtsleeves to shirtsleeves.
    • Quoted in: George J. Borjas (2001) Heaven's Door: Immigration Policy and the American Economy. p. 132
  • Watch the costs and the profits take care of themselves.

Round the World, 1884[edit]

Carnegie, Andrew (1884). Round the World. New York: Charles Scribner's Sons. Retrieved on January 2, 2018. 
  • "Did you ever sum up these prizes and think how very little the millionaire has beyond the peasant, and how very often his additions tend not to happiness but to misery!"
    • p. 353 General Conclusions.

Wealth, 1889[edit]

"Wealth," in: North American Review, June 1889 vol. 148, issue 391, p 653-664.
  • The problem of our age is the proper administration of wealth, so that the ties of brotherhood may still bind together the rich and poor in harmonious relationship.
    • p. 653
  • While the law [of competition] may be sometimes hard for the individual, it is best for the race, because it insures the survival of the fittest in every department. We accept and welcome, therefore, as conditions to which we must accommodate ourselves, great inequality of environment, the concentration of business, industrial and commercial, in the hands of the few, and the law of competition between these, as being not only beneficial, but essential for the future progress of the race.
    • p. 655
  • Upon the sacredness of property civilization itself depends—the right of the laborer to his hundred dollars in the savings bank, and equally the legal right of the millionaire to his millions.
    • p. 656
  • Those who would administer wisely must, indeed, be wise, for one of the serious obstacles to the improvement of our race is indiscriminate charity.
    • p. 662
  • Thus is the problem of Rich and Poor to be solved. The laws of accumulation will be left free; the laws of distribution free. Individualism will continue, but the millionaire will be but a trustee of the poor; intrusted for a season with a great part of the increased wealth of the community, but administering it for the community far better than it could or would have done for itself. (pp. 663-664)
  • The man who dies thus rich dies disgraced.
    • p. 664
  • Such, in my opinion, is the true Gospel concerning Wealth, obedience to which is destined some day to solve the problem of the Rich and the Poor, and to bring "Peace on earth, among men Good Will."
    • p. 664

The Best Fields for Philanthropy, 1889[edit]

"The Best Fields for Philanthropy," in: North American Review, December 1889 vol. 149, issue 397
  • Surplus wealth is a sacred trust which its possessor is bound to administer in his lifetime for the good of the community.
    • p. 684

The Gospel of Wealth 1906[edit]


  • The problem of our age is the proper administration of wealth, so that the ties of brotherhood may still bind together the rich and poor in harmonious relationship.
  • Why should men leave great fortunes to their children? If this is done from affection, is it not misguided affection?
  • Observation teaches that, generally speaking, it is not well for the children that they should be so burdened. Neither is it well for the state. Beyond providing for the wife and daughters moderate sources of income, and very moderate allowances indeed, if any, for the sons, men may well hesitate, for it is no longer questionable that great sums bequeathed oftener work more for the injury than for the good of the recipients.
  • Wise men will soon conclude that, for the best interests of the members of their families and of the state, such bequests are an improper use of their means.
  • As to the second mode, that of leaving wealth at death for public uses, it may be said that this is only a means for the disposal of wealth, provided a man is content to wait until he is dead before it becomes of much good in the world.
  • It may fairly be said that no man is to be extolled for doing what he cannot help doing, nor is he to be thanked by the community to which he only leaves wealth at death. Men who leave vast sums in this way may fairly be thought men who would not have left it at all had they been able to take it with them. The memories of such cannot be held in grateful remembrance, for there is no grace in their gifts.

Autobiography of Andrew Carnegie, 1920[edit]

Carnegie, Andrew (1920). Autobiography of Andrew Carnegie with Illustrations. Retrieved on July 4, 2014. 
  • It is not the rich man's son that the young struggler for advancement has to fear in the race of life, nor his nephew, nor his cousin. Let him look out for the "dark horse" in the boy who begins by sweeping out the office.
    • Chapter III
  • Salary, (I said, quite offended) what do I care for salary? I do not want the salary; I want the position. It is glory enough to go back to the Pittsburgh Division in your former place. You can make my salary just what you please and you need not give me any more than what I am getting now... Oh, please don't speak to me of money!
    • Chapter VII
  • The sound rule in busi­ness is that you may give money freely when you have a sur­plus, but your name never—nei­ther as en­dorser nor as mem­ber of a cor­po­ra­tion with in­di­vid­ual li­a­bil­ity
    • Chapter XVI
  • No, Your Majesty, I do not like kings, but I do like a man be­hind a king when I find him.
    • Chapter XXIX

Quotes about Andrew Carnegie[edit]

  • To his direction, Mr. Carnegie and others entrusted a fund for certain studies among Negroes. This is standard American procedure; if there is a job to be done and a Negro fit to do it, do not give the job or the responsibility to the Negro; give it to some white man and let the Negro work under him.
    • The Autobiography of W.E.B. Du Bois: A Soliloquy on Viewing My Life from the Last Decade of Its First Century (1968)
  • in 1901, when Andrew Carnegie offered to augment the Astor, Lenox, and Tilden Foundation's trust with enough money to fund the construction of sixty-five public library branches for the City of New York, the history of North American public libraries entered a new phase, one that, among other things, led to making library services for children and young adults a priority (Lyndenberg 1972).
    • Lisa Sánchez González, The Stories I Read to the Children: The Life and Writing of Pura Belpré (2013)
  • the great fathers Jefferson, Lincoln and Jackson had given way to Carnegie, Morgan and DuPont.
  • Old-time steel workers who listened to the speeches on June 5, 1936 recalled the relentless war by Andrew Carnegie and his henchmen to preserve the open shop, and the repeated failures of the Amalgamated Association of Iron, Steel, and Tin Workers to organize the steel industry.
  • Each generation repeats its leaders. Each sees men endowed with superior inventiveness, energy, and genius for business, inspired by love of power and possession, launch selfish schemes-Carnegies, Rockefellers, Goulds…Each generation has had its Henry George, its Bellamy, its Bryan, intent on persuading mankind that he had found the way, could lead men to the good life. In each generation employer and employee have faced the decision-war or cooperation.

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